Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Second Stop: Indonesia

Hillary Clinton sure does know how to make an entrance! Here's some raw footage of Hillary descending from her plane.

Immediately after stepping off the plane at Halim airport in Jakarta, she was warmly greeted by senior officials including; U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron Hume. And right there on the tarmac a choir of female students from Menteng Elementary School 1, President Barack Obama's old primary school, sang a traditional song as part of the greeting ending with them waving both the American and Indonesian flags. Hillary talked with some of the children and had her picture taken with them. Michele Cenzer wrote a great post on Dipnote about the preparation for the meeting at Halim ariport. Then after that, it was off to business!

Security was definitely beefed up in preparation for her visit. Although many in Indonesia stand behind America and are hopeful for the new Obama Administration, a small block of radical extremists continue to call for "holy war" against American. They demand the implementation of hardline Islamic sharia law in Indonesia. Indonesian extremist groups have rejected Obama's and Secretary Clinton's attempts to reach out to the modern world, saying Washington merely wants to use Indonesia to window-dress what they say are anti-Muslim policies. There was a group of about 50 Muslim students protesting at the US embassy, carrying banners reading "America is a rubbish civilisation" and "America is the real terrorist." They chanted for Hillary to "get out," had painted anti-Hillary and America signs. Many were arrested.

Next on the agenda, Hillary was greeted by Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda before their meeting in Jakarta. They held a joint news conference in which she again stated that she wants to improve relations with Indonesia and the Muslim world. She also commented on the fact that the U.S. is looking to work with Iran. The Obama Administration is looking for ways to work with Iran to stabilize Afghanistan. She also talked about climate change. Indonesia is actually the worlds third largest carbon emitter following the U.S. and China.

The Indonesian Foreign Minister made it clear that he is looking forward to an Obama visit. But Hillary kinda put the kabash on a visit anytime soon. She responds: "Knowing he can go somewhere in the world where he is so loved as he is loved in Indonesia, he may just want to wait until he really needs that visit, and you can lavish on him all of the love that you are telling me you feel for him."

Hillary also visited ASEAN's headquarters and met with its secretary general, Surin Pitsuwan. Pitsuwan said this about the Secretary: "Your visit shows the seriousness of the United States to end its diplomatic absenteeism in the region," he said. "Your willingness to listen will go a long way to winning friends and partners and reassuring allies in the region."ASEAN has not been very effective in dealing with one problem in the region: human rights abuses in Myanmar, formerly Burma. She clearly stated that the U.S. is reviewing its sanctions policy.

"Clearly, the path we have taken in imposing sanctions hasn't influenced the Burmese junta, but … reaching out and trying to engage them hasn't influenced them either. So this is a problem."

After all of the official meetings, the Secretary had dinner with civil society groups to talk about her commitment to women's issues, the environment and health care. She lavished much praise her host country saying, "If you want to know whether Islam, modernity and women's rights can coexist, go to Indonesia." What a beautiful quote.

Embedded video from CNN Video


Nancy in Cali said...

Thank you so so much for your website - these videos, photos and updates are FANTASTIC. I LOVE THEM.....and I LOVE Hillary

Sarah said...

thats great to hear! im glad you love the site!

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